With the Portland Timbers set to kick off the Simple Invitational tomorrow, there are some changes around Providence Park that fans will notice, including the use of metal detectors at the gates as fans enter the stadium (first pointed out on this site by "jocked07" in the FanShots).
Troughs and water bottle filling stations are exciting and all, but the use of metal detectors at the gates will impact everyone who enters the stadium, so we got a hold of Timbers President of Business Operations Mike Golub to get his thoughts on the changes in security at Providence Park and how that will affect the fans.
Stumptown Footy: I was hoping to get a few thoughts on the changes to security at Providence Park and any other changes that people should keep an eye out for in the stadium.
Mike Golub: We are obviously very proud of the supporter experience that we have been able to create here around Major League Soccer and at Thorns games, for that matter.
When we launched five years ago, we really wanted to make sure that the entire experience of attending a Timbers match was as fun, safe, and enjoyable as possible. We spent countless hours on things like transportation, security, guest services, and food. We obviously have some constraints with the old stadium and the downtown location and the lack of parking and all those things, but the things that we have done, like the bike parking and local food and the guest services training -- everything that we have been able to do -- I think that we have created a really great experience that resonates with out fans and helps create the kind of environment that we are all known for.
Every offseason we look to [see] how can we continue to refine and improve the supporter experience. This year we are adding a few seats at a couple of locations that the fans will notice and a couple of new sponsors that the fans will notice, some new food offerings that we are excited about, and we are also introducing some additional security procedures. Most stadiums around the country have a degree of security measures in place.
We have had an incredible track record. We have had virtually no incidents over the years of any consequence. It has been a real credit to our fans. This is not a reaction to anything. It is just a step that we think will further insure the kind of safe, fan-friendly environment that our supporters have come to enjoy.
Is this a league-wide mandate, like Major League Baseball enacted in 2014?
It is really up to the venue. If you go to the StubHub Center everybody goes through metal detectors like you are at the airport. They take out their phones and wallets; it is similar to what you do at the Moda Center.
It was an independent decision of ours to go to wanding. We have got bag checks now and we have certain measures in place and we are just refining that a little bit.
We are very confident that it is not going to impede any ingress: the speed and efficiency in getting people into the building. We are very confident that we have got a system in place that is not going to effect how quickly people get in the building.
That has never been a problem. We have always been very efficient with that. We move fans in really quickly and we have a very efficient process and we think that even with the wanding that is going to continue.
I have always been that guy who, when I am at the airport and in line for the metal detector, I am prepared and ready to go to get through the process as quickly as possible. Is there anything that Timbers fans should keep in mind to keep the line moving quickly?
It is just like before: they need to be cognizant of what is allowed and what is not allowed. We will have a lot of folks out there instructing and coaching. There will be a bit of a learning process for everybody.
Use your head and we will have a lot of staff on site to communicate with people. We have all the details of what people should look for on the website.